Def Leppard definitely took a liking to Las Vegas during its first rock residency here at the Joint in the Hard Rock Hotel six years ago.
“We’d always done Vegas the same way we do New York, LA and San Francisco—in and out,” says singer Joe Elliott. “For us, it’s really nice to be part of the new Vegas, where we’ve seen residencies like Prince and Aerosmith and Mötley Crüe. Rock is more accepted [as a residency show] and that’s cool, and it feels like a whole new Vegas, more modern and digital and swanky. I like that a lot, and on my day off I can go see stuff you can only dream about.”
The 42-year-old English rock outfit is back for Round 2 at Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood this month with Def Leppard Hits Vegas: The Sin City Residency. The new production promises to be bigger and broader than the Joint run, which saw the group playing classic 1987 album Hysteria in its entirety for one segment.
“We’re really happy to be coming back, and no one is pushing us to do anything,” Elliott says. “It’s going to be a vastly different show, a really big production because that’s the whole point of doing these shows these days. It has to be a visual feast. And even though it’s a bigger [room] than last time, it’s a theater, not a massive arena, so we’ll be closer to the crowd and they’ll give us a different energy as well. We can change up the set as often as we like.”
Rock band residencies are still are new development on the Vegas entertainment scene and they’re evolving quickly. Aerosmith has been experimenting with its set list for the Deuces Are Wild show at Park Theater and it’s clear Def Leppard is ready to do the same; it has 12 shows scheduled so far at Zappos Theater.
“We may not do the same show twice on this one,” Elliott says. “We’ve got a ton of songs we’ve not played for a long time and others we’ve never played live, so we’re mixing those in with the ones that we couldn’t get out of the room if we didn’t play. We’ve never been scared of our hits. If you can’t handle the responsibility of a hit, then don’t write it.”
Def Leppard is coming off a huge North American tour in 2018 and big stadium shows in Europe this summer, not to mention the group’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year. The timing was perfect for another extended Vegas gig, according to its frontman.
“You just can’t come back a year later and expect to do the same thing. But we didn’t want to disappear, so this is the perfect year,” Elliott says. “This is off the beaten path from our regular touring situation. And I get to sleep in the same bed for 30 days.”
DEF LEPPARD HITS VEGAS: THE SIN CITY RESIDENCY Opens August 14, 8 p.m., $74-$229. Zappos Theater, 702-777-2782.